Yet another American state has seen legislation introduced to include mandatory anti-pornography filters on any internet-capable device – or else.
Alabama state rep Jack Williams (R-Montgomery) has proposed House Bill 428 that is virtually identical to red-tape put forward in North Dakota and South Carolina. If enacted, from January 1, 2018, all internet-capable devices must, by default, block "obscene" websites, child abuse images, revenge porn havens, and webpages that offer the services of sex workers.
Selling a device without one of these filters to an adult would become a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in prison and a $6,000 fine. Selling one to a minor would be a Class C felony, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in the clink and fines of up to $30,000 per offense.
As with the other legislation, there are no details on how this filter would work – that's for the manufacturer to figure out. Vendors must also maintain a website and/or call center where concerned members of the public can report sites to be included in the filter. Failure to add the offending site to the filter would lead to a fine of $500 per report.
Williams' bill defines an internet device as "a cellular telephone, computer, data communications device, or other product manufactured, distributed, or sold in this state that provides Internet access." Logically that would also include Internet-of-Things devices, but we doubt he's thought that one through.
This being the Land of the FreeTM however, there is a get-out clause. State residents who want the filter disabled may do so. All they have to do is put the request in writing, prove they are over 18, read a document warning them of the dangers of filterless internet viewing, and pay $20 and whatever fee the seller wishes to charge, and then they can disable the blockade.
The funds raised will be split three ways. Sixty per cent will go to the Alabama Crime Victims Compensation Fund, 20 per cent goes to law enforcement, and the rest is fed into the state's coffers. On his campaign website Williams describes himself as being in favor of "smaller government."
Pornography seems to be something of an obsession with Jack Williams, as he has also just introduced a bill that would declare smut to be a public health hazard. The legislation asks that the state's governor and attorney general work to halt the "pornography epidemic that is harming the people of our state and nation."
"Pornography equates violence towards women and children with sex and pain with pleasure, which increases the demand for sex trafficking, prostitution, child sexual abuse images, and child pornography," it states.
Williams has joined other lawmakers in taking a stiff line against smut, and given the deeply Republican state's leanings, he shouldn't have too hard a time pushing this legislation through. Whether manufacturers will want to mop up after his legislative mess remains to be seen, however. ®